The Glory Has Departed

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Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
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I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sexagesima Sunday, 2016.
The Parable of the Sower and the Seed

 Norma Boeckler - The Sower

Sexagesima Sunday, 2016

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time

The Hymn #190               Christ the Lord                       
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 339               All Hail the Power              

The Power of Creation - The Word

The Hymn # 308                    Invited Lord                          
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #46              On What Has Now Been Sown               

2 Corinthians 11:19 For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.
20 For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face.  21 I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.  22 Are they Hebrews? soam I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.  23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool ) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.  24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.  25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;  26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen,in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;  27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.  28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.  29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?  30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.  31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.  32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:  33 And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands. 12:1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.  2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.  3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)  4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.  5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.  6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.  7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

By Norma Boeckler

KJV Luke 8:4 And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable: 

5 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. 

6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. 

7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. 

8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. 9 And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? 

10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. 14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. 15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

The Power of Creation - The Word

KJV Luke 8:4 And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable: 

5 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.

This parable is one of the best illustrations of Jesus as the Creating Word using that Creation to teach people about the Word of God.

The purpose of the parable is clear. People wonder about why so few believe when the Gospel is proclaimed with such abandon, much like seed being sown. Some of us still sow seed, whether replanting grass or dealing with easy to grow small seeds, like lettuce.

No gardener and no farmer can take the time - and even if could - examine each seed for whether it will produce part of the crop. The outcome remains mysterious, no matter how much we know. My grandfather earned an agricultural degree at the University of Illinois. He did quite well until the Depression and FDR's takeover of agriculture. As much as my grandfather knew, he could not predict that aspect of farming.

On a much smaller scale, we had torrential rains last summer that changed many of my notions about what worked in gardening. The rains and rabbits reduced my food crops to almost nothing, but some grew anyway. The corn was a bit shaded but grew well and filled out. It must have been good corn, because the squirrels harvested most of it.

In this case, the sower broadcasts the seed and some of it falls on the well worn path, where it really cannot find a place to root. Soil is light and full of air pockets. When we trample it down, the soil creatures diminish and the surface becomes as hard as  a clay pot at times. Our clay soil turns white in the sun.

2. The first class of disciples are those who hear the Word but neither understand nor esteem it. And these are not the mean people in the world, but the greatest, wisest and the most saintly, in short they are the greatest part of mankind; for Christ does not speak here of those who persecute the Word nor of those who fail to give their ear to it, but of those who hear it and are students of it, who also wish to be called true Christians and to live in Christian fellowship with Christians and are partakers of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. But they are of a carnal heart, and remain so, failing to appropriate the Word of God to themselves, it goes in one ear and out the other. Just like the seed along the wayside did not fall into the earth, but remained lying on the ground in the wayside, because the road was tramped hard by the feet of man and beast and it could not take root.

3. Therefore Christ says the devil cometh and taketh away the Word from their heart, that they may not believe and be saved. What power of Satan this alone reveals, that hearts, hardened through a worldly mind and life, lose the Word and let it go, so that they never understand or confess it; but instead of the Word of God Satan sends false teachers to tread it under foot by the doctrines of men. For it stands here written both that it was trodden under foot, and the birds of the heaven devoured it. The birds Christ himself interprets as the messengers of the devil, who snatch away the Word and devour it, which is done when he turns and blinds their hearts so that they neither understand nor esteem it, as St. Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:4: “They will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables.” By the treading under foot of men Christ means the teachings of men, that rule in our hearts, as he says in Matthew 5:13 also of the salt that has lost its savor, it is cast out and trodden under foot of men; that is, as St. Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 2:11, they must believe a lie because they have not been obedient to the truth.

This is exactly what happens in sowing seed and also what happens in teaching and preaching the Word. One person came to my ordination "just to be seen" as he told me. At least he was honest. The Word falls on hardened and indifferent people and finds no root. That is not the fault of the seed (the Word) but a natural occurrence when there is no hungering and thirsting for righteousness. 

Just the opposite is the example of a mother and daughter who never missed a service. The mother simply hung on every word of the sermon. She had a very trouble marriage with an addict, the father serving as a role model for the son, who was also an addict. This situation is a great set-up for people feeling worthless and punished. And here the Word was always welcome, embraced like food after a long fast. Luther often said, the Gospel is not for the secure, powerful, and wise, but for the weak, afflicted, and crushed souls who hear it with gladness. As we can see with the interactions with Jesus - the great and holy always found fault and were greatly offended. The open sinners were attracted to His grace, His gentleness, and His message of faith in Him.

6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. 

I have done this, seeing seed that fell from a bird feeder onto a flat roof with organic matter and some rainwater. Organic matter is very spongy and offers a great start. Look at the great garden in your rain gutters right now. The leaves stop the rainwater from going down, hold onto it, and rot in place, a great situation for a seed that needs water and nutrition with plenty of sun. We had a forest of maple trees at our house in Moline - all in the gutters. Big mama maple tree dominated the yard and broadcast her seeds in all directions.

Seed that sprouts so easily in shallow soil will also fry when the sun dries out that little bit of soil. Many are converted by the Word and find great joy in its message of forgiveness received in faith through God's grace. When affliction comes in the form of everyday difficulties and hatred of the Word, that joy dries up and turns to bitterness and rejection.

They also know that they are free from the bondage of the law, of their conscience and of human teachings; but when it comes to the test that they must suffer harm, disgrace and loss of life or property, then they fall and deny it; for they have not root enough, and are not planted deep enough in the soil. Hence they are like the growth on a rock, which springs forth fresh and green, that it is a pleasure to behold it and it awakens bright hopes. But when the sun shines hot it withers, because it has no soil and moisture, and only rock is there. So these do; in times of persecution they deny or keep silence about the Word, and work, speak and suffer all that their persecutors mention or wish, who formerly went forth and spoke, and confessed with a fresh and joyful spirit the same, while there was still peace and no heat, so that there was hope they would bear much fruit and serve the people. For these fruits are not only the works, but more the confession, preaching and spreading of the Word, so that many others may thereby be converted and the kingdom of God be developed.

A great number of Christians today are nominal (in name only) and at the point of being turned into apostates.
  • Is a brother pastor being kicked out for teaching the truth? They join the leaders in shunning him and offer not one drop of compassion or help. Some call up and say, "You had it coming to you."
  • Is the congregation hearing a boatload of false doctrine from a charismatic pastor or teacher? They know it is wrong but feel it is better to be silent than to be on the wrong side of popularity.
  • Is the congregation viewed as a good place to be for business or professional reasons? 
  • Is the synod making it so attractive to be quiet and accept the promotion to the plum congregation?
This answers the issue of faith withering away, not overnight, but in steps, until there is only the shadow and the faith-words left, without producing fruit, and often eager to prosecute the Gospel in favor of false doctrine.

 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. 

6. The third class are those who hear and understand the Word, but still it falls on the other side of the road, among the pleasures and cares of this life, so that they also do nothing with the Word. And there is quite a large multitude of these; for although they do not start heresies, like the first, but always possess the absolutely pure Word, they are also not attacked on the left as the others with opposition and persecution; yet they fall on the right side, and it is their ruin that they enjoy peace and good days. Therefore they do not earnestly give themselves to the Word, but become indifferent and sink in the cares, riches and pleasures of this life, so that they are of no benefit to any one. Therefore they are like the seed that fell among the thorns. Although it is not rocky but good soil; not wayside but deeply plowed soil; yet, the thorns will not let it spring up, they choke it. Thus these have all in the Word that is needed for their salvation, but they do not make any use of it, and they rot in this life in carnal pleasures. To these belong those who hear the Word but do not bring under subjection their flesh. They know their duty but do it not, they teach but do not practice what they teach, and are this year as they were last.

I learned my lesson with this, last summer. The rule is - roses like to grow alone. When I was done in the sunny garden I had a neat row of roses ready to grow and bloom. But little did I realize that sun, watering, the straw bales, and weeds would create a jungle around them. They struggled to produce the most beautiful roses, but it was almost too much for them.

Here the problem was too much of everything, worms, slugs, sun, water, and creatures. The roses were surrounded and distracted from their mission.

This class of hearers are those who are distracted from the Word of God by cares, riches, and the hedonism of this world. I have nothing against spectator sports, but sometimes I am simply stunned by the money and energy devoted to it. I watched skating from some gigantic place where the iced, curved track rose up and down, giving skaters a real challenge to complete it. This was simply to create a kind of football stadium for skating enthusiasts.

Others feel they have to work seven days a week, and they draw their greatest love from that work. 

8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. 9 And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be?

This shows that the parable was meant for added instruction. That is, it was not an evangelism message but one for believers who would be trained in the meaning of each section.

This parable addresses the question of why so much is done to broadcast the Word and yet the results seem so slender at times.

The Sower parable also discusses the kinds of problems that affect the growth of the Word in the hearts of people.

Finally, the parable encourages everyone to stop judging the process and do more with broadcasting the Word of God. We all need that boost about the power and efficacy of the Word, because we may wonder about the effect of our parenting through the Word. And ministers often fall prey to measuring how well they are doing.

Thy Strong Word is a good example of an apparent total failure. No one would review it (except for one negative review in CN). I was not allowed to advertise it in Logia - using my own money. Etc. And yet years later people I may never meet say they love to study the free version I have posted.

We were banned at Emmaus, yet that attitude seems to propel the Word forward, having its own divine energy and power.

So Jesus is teaching us to trust in the Word, avoid our own problems in the Word being brought to perfection and becoming fruitful in us, and continue broadcasting recklessly, carelessly, heedlessly, because the Word always accomplishes God's will, as Isaiah teaches.